Ahead of this weekend's opening home game of the season against Leicester City, Mikel Arteta has been speaking about the build-up to the match, transfers and injury news in his weekly press conference.
Below you can read everything the manager had to say to the gathered journalists, who were keen to know more about William Saliba, Emile Smith Rowe and Fabio Vieira, among many other topics:
On how training has been in the lead-up to the game:
It’s been really good. The boys have been training fantastically well. Obviously, the weather conditions have helped a lot. We had a busy week, with some players leaving the club. There’s a lot of work to do and we wish them all the best.
On updates on Tomiyasu, Smith Rowe and Vieira:
They’ve been reintegrated into training this week, all of them. They are in different phases but some of them will be in the squad tomorrow.
On if Tierney is nearing full fitness levels:
He played 15 or 20 minutes last weekend and he did really well. He’s been out for a long time after the knee injury but he looks in perfect condition now and ready to go.
On Reiss Nelson’s injury:
He felt something in training. We scanned it and the doctor came with some bad news. It’s a muscular injury and hopefully he will be back soon.
On a timescale for Nelson’s injury:
Not yet - they need to do another test and hopefully next week we’ll have more information.
On what he makes of Leicester this season in comparison to last season:
I think it’s difficult to compare; we’ve just played one competitive match. They’ve had some good games - I watched the game against Sevilla and they’ve been together for a long time. It’s a really strong squad with a manager and coaching staff that have been doing a fantastic job and have huge experience in the league. It’s always difficult against them.
On if he’s worried about the hot weather forecast for Saturday afternoon:
It’s the conditions and the context of the game. We’re going to have to adapt to it. We know we’re going to have the water break and get the players in the best possible condition to adapt to it. That’s it - [we need] to play the game we want to play.
On if he’d change his approach to the game based on the heat:
We have to adapt. Players will need to be ready mentally to play in those conditions, because it’s not something that we do normally. We have five subs as well, which is very helpful. It’s a combination of factors.
On how important having five subs will be:
I think it will be really important. It’s really helpful and it gives the squad and individual players many more chances and hope to participate in matches. It’s educating players as well that not playing 90 minutes is not an issue, especially when you have so many games in the season.
On if he’s happy with the culture at the club:
I’m really happy with where we are, with the people we have at the club, with the professionals we have at the club and what we are building. I could not be happier with that.
On if he has any regrets about how Aubameyang was stripped of the captaincy last season:
It’s a long time since that happened. I cannot go back every time there is another series. I have made my comments on that. I was really clear and honest with my opinion and what has been done has only been done to defend our club and put the club in the best possible position while being as clear, as honest and as consistent as we can be.
On if he’s had requests from Chelsea to look at his file on Aubameyang:
Auba is an exceptional player. He did so much for us - he was our captain and we have to be very grateful for what he did for this club.
On if he’d want Aubameyang to get a good reception were he to come back to the Emirates as an opposition player:
I’d hope he does because I think he deserves that. There are moments in life and there are moments in your career - sometimes the trajectory and objectives of each individual are different to the club’s. We have to respect that.
On if there could be more players leaving before the transfer window shuts:
Well, we had Bernd and Lucas Torreira [as well as Pablo Mari]. There were a few - we had Flo Balogun going on loan as well. We’ve moved the squad a lot and we’re still willing to finalise the squad the way we want it. We could add something great but there are a few players that we need to find the right game time for as well. At the moment, that’s going to be difficult.
On if he’s heard anything about Kieran Tierney heading to Manchester City:
No - and you know I’m not going to be commenting on individual cases.
On if he’s had to change anything this week due to the hot weather:
In this country, we never get it right. When it’s raining and cloudy, it’s always raining and cloudy. When it’s hot, it’s too hot! We have to say ‘listen, 23 degrees, a little bit of shadows, a nice breeze and then we are all happy!’. We have to adapt to the conditions. We know that on Saturday it’s going to be boiling hot and we need to train in those conditions to get up to speed.
On how different the culture at the club is now from when he took over:
It was the club’s main objective at the beginning to try and completely change that. Many people participating are proud, happy and accountable for their jobs. I think we have that. You can see that level of commitment and passion transmitted to our supporters. That’s why, at the moment, there is such unity at the club.
On if every player is buying into the culture and the manager’s ‘non-negotiables’:
The first thing we talk about is what we’re going to expect from them, what they’re going to expect from the club, what our values are, how we like to behave and be perceived and that we’re here to have enjoyment. It’s our passion - it’s what we love doing and in order to do that, we have to get on well. There are a lot of people - the club is getting bigger and bigger every day and you have to have that respect in order to have enjoyment together.
On who the biggest influence on his team talks has been:
I think those moments are very personal and happen in the moment - it’s how you’re feeling, how you sense the atmosphere in the dressing room to be, what the players need in the moment, what the occasion is. It has to come naturally from yourself. Obviously, you always have people who inspire you in your life, that have educated you, and that helps.
On his favourite memory of the first 30 years of the Premier League:
That's a big question - I think as a club that Invincible season was something that has been written in the history of this country and league, and it will stay there forever. Hopefully, nobody, except us one day, will touch it.
On keeping William Saliba’s feet on the ground:
I think he has his feet on the ground, and I don’t think that will be an issue. Obviously we have already talked about the expectation that he had already created before when he was on loan, and he was very aware of everything that was happening around him, and we have tried to manage that internally in a really quiet way. I think it’s better to stay like this for him because he is 21 years of age and has played one Premier League match.
On how he comes across in the dressing room:
The players really like him because he’s become a really determined, focused and humble boy that really wants to take this club forward. He is so willing to talk through anything that you want to talk to him about, and his aim is to get better and make the team better.
On what Emile Smith Rowe has to do to get back into the team:
He needs to stay fit, train well and perform at the level that he is able to perform at, because when he does that it is really difficult not to pick him.
On how much Saliba had changed since he came back from France:
The first-team players were really positive. His body language, presence and confidence he was acting with were very mature.
On whether a longer-term deal for Saliba is being considered:
We will address all these issues like we always do, that’s why the board and Edu will be preparing all the scenarios that we can possibly face. We want players to be happy here and feel valued, but we’ve just started the season.
On having plenty of options in multiple positions:
You give a different threat and create different problems as well for your opponent because doing the same things with very different qualities creates different scenarios, and gives us great flexibility with the same players to play in different ways.
On whether he gives less instruction to his players pre-match:
That’s the idea, and the dream that they can decide by themselves and make decisions themselves, and those decisions are right in execution, timing and in purpose, and that is the direction we obviously want to take.
On what position Fabio Vieira might play:
That’s something the player is going to tell us. We are already trying him in different positions in training, and he’s played on the left, right, as a false nine and an attacking midfielder, so it’s good. He doesn’t want to be locked in any one position, because he’s so used to it, and that’s a really positive thing for us.
On whether it’ll take him time to adapt to the Premier League:
That’s a question mark that’s very difficult to respond to right now. It might take him now time to get there, depending on who he’s playing with and how the game goes - it could take him no time to adapt. What I can tell you is that he’s doing everything he can to make that process really short.
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